So Many Wrongs; AGENDA with His Reign Coming to an End, Chris Game Asks If George W Bush Is the Worst Ever President

Article excerpt

Byline: George W Bush

Everyone knows the Win the 43rd President's name is to distinguish him from his father: George Bush, the 41st President.

But some, unaware that it is actually his grandfather's name, Walker, believe it stands for "Worse" - as in worse even than his father.

And there is growing speculation that it could be "Worst" - as in worst US President in history.

There is serious competition, but in this contest he's got my vote.

First, though, the judgments of the professionals - as in those regular surveys asking academic historians to rank mainly dead statesmen in terms of their achievements and leadership qualities.

British Prime Ministerial lists are invariably headed by somepermutation of Attlee, Churchill, Lloyd George, and - depending on the Conservatism of the assessors - Thatcher. At the bottom are usually the quartet of Eden, Douglas-Home, Neville Chamberlain and Balfour, just edging out John Major.

Interestingly, British academics are rarely asked to include even 19th century figures - possibly because it is suspected we won't know enough about them. Americans, however, are assumed capable of pronouncing upon all 40-plus presidents.

They too produce a predictable top trio of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and George Washington, followed by Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

But, as in the Premier League, it's the relegation skirmish that is more absorbing.

In 12 of these academic rankings since 1948, there is no conclusive agreement on the worst-ever president.

With several listings pre-dating the disgraced Richard Nixon and almost all excluding George W, there seem four main candidates: chronologically, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Warren Harding.

All four feature in the top six in at least 11 of the 12 lists and all but Pierce head at least one. To understand these rankings - Lincoln's position as most frequent "Best Ever President" as well as those of several worst-ever candidates - we must remember that for Americans the overwhelmingly most important event in US history was the Civil War in the early 1860s. …